A large meteor or meteors entered the atmosphere near Russia's Chelyabinsk region hours before closest approach of asteroid 2012 DA14. Initial claims are that the two are unrelated; the above link says "The European Space Agency posted a message on its Twitter account saying that there was no link between the Russian meteor and asteroid 2012 DA14."

The coincidence of what appears to be a once-in-a-few-decades meteor and the closest known passing of a significant asteroid is curious. Were there characteristics of the Russian event that definitively rule out a connection with 2012DA14?


Coincidence or related?

According to Nature a Canadian astronomer agrees with ESA's conclusions

"It was a very, very powerful event," says Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who has studied data from two infrasound stations near the impact site. Her calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 metres across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 7,000 metric tonnes. "That would make it the biggest object recorded to hit the Earth since Tunguska," she says.


The European Space Agency does not think that the meteor is related to a much larger asteroid known as 2012 DA14, which will be passing within about 20,000 kilometres of Earth later today. Both the timing of the meteor's appearance and its location indicate that it came from a different direction, Klinkrad says. Campbell-Brown agrees: "We happened to have close approaches to two of them, and one of them got us," she says.

(my emphasis)

NASA agree with the ESA

Editor's Note: NASA statement on Russia meteor: "According to NASA scientists, the trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. Information is still being collected about the Russia meteor and analysis is preliminary at this point. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14's trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north."

What is a meteor?

A small body of matter from outer space that enters the earth's atmosphere, appearing as a streak of light.

How common are meteors?

The Chelyabinsk meteor was the largest for 104 years, but meteors in general are commonplace.

The International Meteor Organisation says

The VMDB contains about 3,000,000 meteors obtained by standardized observing methods which were collected during the last ~25 years.


Chelyabinsk wasn't the only fireball reported on the same day that DA14 passed by. I don't know if I believe Frank Davis that most of them actually were related to DA14 in some way, but he has a couple possible explanations for the different trajectories. And these are supported by his computer models. If there's a chance that he's right it means that near-miss asteroids can be accompanied by such events -- meaning a serious risk when Apophis passes in 2029. If he's wrong , I'd like to see NASA or someone specifically debunk his models.




-- Jim Burrill

  • You may have a good point, but it would be helpful to include some detail from your links in your answer (eg as block quotes). this makes it easier for others to assess your argument. – matt_black Nov 23 '13 at 13:36

I listen: 1 Chelyabinsk event expected over 50 year.

The probability of a casual coincidence with 2012 da14 fly-by occurred in the same day is: P(same day) = 1/(50*365) = 54/1000000 incredibly small. I would be surprise if both event would occur in the same month: P(same month) = 30/(50*365) = 0.2%

So 3 possibility: 1) the two events are related or 2) Chelyabinsk like events (or asteroid fly-by) are much more frequent or 3) we where very very unluky


NASA claims that the Russian meteorite is unrelated to the larger asteroid. The odds against this are, well... astronomical. It is far more likely that this meteor split off from the larger asteroid at some point in the past and separated enough to allow it to fly by the earth on the opposite side from the larger asteroid, and much closer to the earth. So close, in fact, that it was pulled into an arcing path that took it over the pole and then southward across Russia. This accounts for the meteorite's opposite trajectory to the larger asteroid. Respectfully,

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